Suspect in Kalamazoo shooting spree that killed 6 pleads guilty

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By Elisha Fieldstadt  with NBC News U.S. News
Jason Dalton is seen on closed circuit television during his arraignment in
Jason Dalton is seen on closed circuit television during his arraignment in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, on Feb. 22, 2016.   -   Copyright  Mark Kauzlarich Reuters file

The Uber driver charged with killing six people and seriously wounding two more in a shooting spree around Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2016, pleaded guilty Monday to all counts against him.

Jason Dalton halted jury selection in his trial with surprise guilty pleas to six counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and eight counts of felony use of a firearm, according to prosecutors. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dalton's attorney, who had previously said he wouldn't pursue an insanity defense for his client, said Dalton was pleading guilty against his advice, to shield his family and victims' families from the emotional toll of a trial, NBC affiliate WOOD reported. Jury selection began last week and was due to end Monday.

Dalton, 45, an Uber driver with no criminal history, drove around Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, 2016, opening fire on unsuspecting victims over the course of hours, all the while picking up fares between attacks.

Dalton told detectives that the Uber app had turned him into a "puppet," and picked his targets for him.

The attacks happened at three locations around the city. Dalton first shot Tiana Carruthers, then 25, as she shielded a group of children near her home. The mother was seriously injured but survived.

Later, Dalton gunned down father and son Rich, 53, and Tyler Smith, 17, as they looked at cars at a dealership.

Then, he sprayed bullets into the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel, killing Mary Jo Nye, 60; Mary Lou Nye, 62; Barbara Hawthorne, 68, and Dorothy Brown, 74, and wounding then-14-year-old Abigail Kopf, who was with the women.

Hawthorne, who was a grandmother figure to Kopf, reportedly told responders to first tend to the teen. She was shot in the head, doctors first thought Abigail could become brain-dead and had started planning to harvest her organs for donation when she squeezed her mother's hand. She was released from the hospital two months later.